Evaluative Beings is a well-being focused evaluation and leadership company. We apply our innovative philosophy and methodological insights to develop the most advanced student and staff well-being assessments, coaching, and evaluation services. Read on to learn to learn about our aims and approach.
We are by nature evaluative beings
Evaluative Beings started with a simple idea: to evaluate is human. This has implications for how we come to know our world. It means we can never be truly disinterested in our world, and this realization in turn challenges us to think more carefully about bias and objectivity in evaluation work. While this does not mean valid knowledge is beyond our reach, we simply cannot gain knowledge if we deny the world and our relation to it is a matter of concern to us. We do not simply "behave" or interpret meaning; we evaluate all that is around us. We have the potential to flourish, but we are vulnerable to suffering.
But this thesis challenges us in other ways too! When we think about our world and our relationship to it, we also have feelings about our world and our relationship to it. Contrary to conventional wisdom, then, thinking and feeling are integral to our ability to understand, explain and predict — that is, science.
We often need to evaluate to understand; our ability to feel helps us predict.
The human experience, including the development of science and technology, is characterized by the unity of thinking and feeling. Learning exists as a unity of cognition and affect (e.g., those precious "aha" moments). For us, reason is not the opposite of emotion. Feelings and emotions can offer insight into "how things are going." Feelings and emotions may help us figure out why things are the way they are, and help us figure out what is needed for human flourishing, and what is needed to reduce suffering.
In fact, feelings and emotions have reason, a logic. "Intelligent emotion" may best describe us. Yes, we can all be irrational, but that irrationality does not necessarily stem from our feelings and emotions. Bureaucracies are often characterized as irrational, yet the bureaucrat is praised for her lack of feeling. Might it be that ignoring our feelings and emotions is a source of irrational behavior? Fostering human well-being, and evaluating the effects of our efforts to foster it, require that we break free of the notion that feelings and emotions are necessarily the enemy of reason and science. As evaluative beings, we take what it means to be human seriously.
Over the past thirty years of work as an activist, researcher, educator, and consultant, I have learned much from many people. But I am, as we are all are, still learning. Evaluative Beings is a means to extend that learning. Here we discuss new ways to think about evaluation. We explore how these new ideas can help us improve our evaluation of people, programs, schools, and policies. And as these common objects of evaluation are expressions of culture, we are always evaluating our society. By challenging us to rethink evaluation, we hope to provide better evaluation services, and foster individual and collective well-being.
Evaluative Beings is a means to build evaluation capacity — both in terms of how we think about evaluation, and evaluation methods. From this thinking emerges a range of insights into what contributes to well-being, and how to assess and foster that well-being.
Thus, evaluative beings is a method for building capacity to support the needs of clients, as well as the means to contribute to advances in research methodology, and the philosophy and ethics of evaluation.
Evaluative Beings is a place to learn more about us, about evaluation and related topics, and to get assistance with a project you are working on. More generally, it is a call for all of us to think anew about how we can all contribute to human flourishing, in and out of our educational institutions.
Mark Garrison, PhD, President, Evaluative Beings, LLC
Much of this thinking is inspired by Andrew Sayer, Why Things Matter to People: Social Science, Values and Ethical Life (Cambridge University Press, 2011). ↩︎